With the advancement in technologies and the rise in awareness regarding environment and sustainability, architecture has taken different routes to match up with the standards. Rating and awarding systems like USGBC, LEED, and GRIHA have managed to bring the ‘green’ into architecture. While all these systems focus on the design and pre-construction phase, very little is done during the sustainable construction process and environment-friendly. The term Lean Construction takes its form in this adversity. Lean construction based on the lines of sustainability and efficiency. Let’s take a.look at how some construction sites set themselves apart by believing in a sustainable approach.

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Green construction methods ©www.bizjournals.com

 1. ‘Mean Lean Green’ Philosophy

A new philosophy which is a compendium of all that we know from before just put together is what the ‘Mean Lean Green’ philosophy is all about.

‘Mean’ – This term deals with reducing the need for a certain material or resource from the initial stages and using suitable alternatives. For example, the use of passive methods of heating, ventilation, or shading.

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‘Lean’ – This term deals with the efficient and responsible use of the resources provided. An example of this could be efficient planning and distribution systems to catch up on time lag and transport distances.

‘Green’ – This term stands as one of the most important where renewable resources are employed and leave a low carbon footprint like the use of solar energy, rainwater harvesting, and green fuel choices.

How far can we go in the race to achieve sustainability by adopting a ‘Mean Lean Green’ Philosophy?

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2. Pre-fabrication

Prefabrication has been here for quite some time but its sustainability aspects are yet to reach the crowds. Prefab has been quite popular as time-saving and of high quality.

Since prefab takes place in controlled environments, they quite check out against the dust and noise pollution and unnecessary waste generation.

The use of BIM to deliver inputs has greatly improved accuracy and efficiency.

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Prefabrication in the race to achieve sustainability. ©www.constructionexec.com

3. Saving Water on site

The use of pre-mixed concrete is down to cut down water loss during mixing and can be a great step on a large scale. Ensuring the usage of recycled water and minimizing the use of potable water on site is another step that can add up to efficiency. Curing is one process where most of the water gets used, and hence it becomes the most important stage where we can save a lot of water with efficient and planned usage. Preservation of site vegetation and retaining the fertile topsoil to prevent soil erosion and aid in water retention.

4. Tiny bits saving up huge chunks

Like how saving drops of water can save a huge ocean. Construction sites have a lot of leaks that need to be fixed. Construction sites have to be free from health as well as fire hazards, thus having a no-smoking regulation in place will save up on a lot of trash as well as drop an unhealthy habit. Segregation of waste is another important step to ensure that recycling, reuse, and disposal happens smoothly. Some sites have the concept of ‘Walk-off mats’ which are placed at the entry-exit points to clean off your feet of lead, harmful chemicals, and dirt to prevent you from carrying it along outside the site. ‘Wheel washing’ is a similar procedure for site vehicles.

The tires are cleaned using ‘rollers’ or ‘Drive-through’ systems to prevent the spillover of dirt, sludge, or chemicals onto the roads and surroundings. Ensuring that the water used for this cleanup is recycled and reused is yet another important follow-up step. Having high barricades around the site and high filter exhausts can help cut down the air and noise pollution levels. The choice of vehicles to deliver the materials, fuel requirements, and the employing of appropriately skilled laborers are other main aspects that have to be met sustainably.

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5. Material Selection

The use of materials with low embodied energy has been quite popular among the construction family and variants like Fly Ash bricks, AAC Blocks, and stabilized mud blocks to name a few. Materials that are derived from recycling, verified by a standards system, and sourced locally can help you climb the ladder towards achieving sustainability. Not to forget Resource Recovery, where the materials can be sourced from the very site’s rubble. Sanitary fittings like Dual flush for toilets and sensor lighting can save up a lot of water and energy.

Wheel washing systems on construction sites ©www.peakwash.com

6. On schedule Workflow

The understanding and clarity among contractors and subcontractors are important factors to ensure a smooth workflow. This coupled with the timely delivery of materials will ensure that no materials are needed to be stored or stacked away and help save money and space.

7. Socio-cultural aspects

Workers, their families and other people who are a part of the construction site are often on the bottom end of the priority list. However, their well-being will ensure that work is finished on time and without accidents and mishaps. Some construction sites are known to have creches and facilities for the laborer’s families. Proper sanitation and water facilities have to be provided to ensure that waste is treated and disposed of properly and does not spread any diseases or illnesses.

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How many more simple measures do you think can help us reach sustainability on our dream project sites as well?


Reshmy Raphy has always been a lover of words. Pursuing final year of B.Arch, she is on her path to discover Architectural Journalism. She loves to learn about different cultures and architectural styles, approaches and people. It is this passion that brought her here on RTF.

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